Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has charged Port State Control Officers (PSCOs) to display high level of professionalism in carrying out their duties of inspecting foreign ships at national ports.
Amaechi said this in a statement signed by the Director of Press and Public Relations of the Ministry, Mr Eric Ojiekwe on Wednesday.
He spoke at the 11th Port State Control Committee (PSC) Meeting of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on PSC for West and Central Africa Region, also known as (Abuja MoU) in Lagos.
According to the minister, the essence of PSC is the inspection of ships, to verify their condition, equipment, and whether it is manned and operated in compliance with the requirements of international conventions and regulations.
He said that it was also aimed at ensuring maritime safety and security of lives, assets and the prevention of pollution.
Amaechi, while referring to the PSCOs as ambassadors of the MoU, said continuous trainings was required to maintain set standards at Ports.
He however called on member states to work together in achieving set goals.
“Bearing in mind that Port State Control Officers are ambassadors of the MoU, it is therefore important that they constantly undergo continuous trainings.
”This will impact on their knowledge and skills as well as on their overall standard of inspections at the Ports. However, this cannot be achieved without the commitment, financial and otherwise of every member state.
“We must all join forces and strive to ensure that we constantly uphold the ideals and objectives upon which the MoU was established.
” For this reason, I urge all member states to play their parts in contributing towards the growth of the Abuja MoU, so that we can constantly meet with expectations and safeguard our marine domains,” he said.
Amaechi however thanked member states for ensuring that the Abuja MoU performed well in the face of COVID-19 and urged them not to relent in their commitments to inspections, trainings and overall contributions.
“I must thank most of our member states for their performance and swift responses in declaring seafarers as key workers and in lending their support to ensure that the impact of COVID- 19 did not disrupt global shipping.
”While it is to be noted that the resulting effect of the pandemic slowed down inspection of vessels, nonetheless, based on our 2020 Report, the Abuja MoU performed relatively well in the inspection of vessels that called at our Ports,” he said.
In the same vein, Ghana’s Minister of Transportation and Chairman of Abuja MoU, Mr Kwaku Asiamah, said Port State Control acted as an important safety-net to eliminate the operation of sub-standard ships to ensure the needed safety.
Asiamah said that in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, ”our performance as flagship states have been very encouraging.”
He called on member states to prioritise the vaccination of seafarers, their off and on signings, especially in the repatriation process and ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
He said this would ensure the protection of PSCOs and the Crew of vessels visiting their ports.
Asiamah also charged member states to be guided by the IMO’s Code of Good Practice for PSCOs and other relevant circulars and statutory documents in conducting inspections within the framework of the regional MoU and agreement on PSC.
He urged them to ensure their PSCOs were empowered to safely conduct inspections and to always aim at exceeding the agreed 15per cent minimum number of foreign vessels that call at the country’s ports.
”States should also accept and endorse the IMO’s guidelines on Cyber Security as part of the Safety Management Codes,” he said.
The Ghanaian minister also called on women to explore careers in PSC and other-related fields, saying “women are great agents of change”.
He therefore tasked member states to create avenues for the participation of women as Port State Control Officers.
Other ministers at the meeting include Sierra Leone’s Minister of Transport and Aviation, Mr Kabineh Kallon and Nigeria’s Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki among others participating online.